Wednesday, 29 January 2014


It turns out I bought too much lavender! I have about a third left. I guess I'll be making a lot of lavender bags later in the year! 

Ongoing Organisational Efforts

I've been trying to reduce my collection of pincushions.

I have a Blue Bird of Happiness pincushion auction ending soon, pictured below. If it doesn't sell, I am thinking about stuffing it with some of the excess lavender and re-using it as a lavender bag! 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


Monday, 27 January 2014

Lavender Pillow Interior

Over the weekend I stitched a simple muslin inner case. Now, all that remains is to insert the lavender and slip stitch the openings. It shouldn't take long and so I hope to get this done this week. I am determined to be good and finish this project before I start sewing my next project!

Preparatory Work for Latest Project

I watched the film Lincoln on Sunday evening and managed to blanket stitch all of the Aida edges. I then positioned the pattern on the fabric. 

Now I am all set to sew! 

Friday, 24 January 2014

New Project

I've been thinking about my latest project. 

This is the fun bit for me! Working out what I want it to look like and how to make it. 

Theme: I've decided on a Tree of Life theme for this set. 

Fabric: Whilst I love the look of cross stitch on Linen, I need a stronger fabric for what I have in mind and so I have chosen Aida for this project. Plus Aida is so quick and easy to stitch I'll have the smaller patterns done very quickly. 

Patterns: Last night I spent a few hours going through my patterns. The large Tree of Life has been taken from one of my favourite books - Barbara Hammet's 'Elizabethan Cross Stitch'. 

I need at least three smaller designs too. I hate sewing the same thing twice (too boring!) so I've been hunting for three different smaller designs that would fit nicely together and continue my chosen theme. I've decided to stitch three Donna Kooler patterns taken from her book 'Great Cross Stitch Gifts'. 

Threads: DMC

One of the reasons that I've bought the full set of colours is that once I reach this stage I get very impatient to start! I don't want to have to hunt down colours or wait for online deliveries. I want to stitch! It is also fun to incorporate some of the special effects threads into a pattern. The result can be stunning but don't overdo it!


I've measured and cut the fabric. 

Now to blanket stitch the edges. This is a bit of a chore but I found out the hard way that it is time well spent. I usually end up regretting it if I try to 'cheat' and omit this stage. I used to use a contrasting cotton but now I use a cotton that is the same colour as the fabric. It is purely functional and almost invisible when done. 

The edging ensures that the pieces don't fray. It also strengthens the edges which simplifies the making up stage and makes it easier to 'undo' a creation that disappoints. Can't waste that cross stitching! 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Difficult Decisions

The downside of sorting out my craft corner is that some things just have to go. 

Now I've never been able to find the sewing accessories that I want and so I've been designing my own for years. I now have more pincushions, needlecases, needlerests, hussifs, project bags etc. than I know what to do with. 

For me, the pleasure is in the design phase and the embroidery. Dare I say it, the making up is more of a chore. 

More often than not, by the time that I've completed something, I've had another design idea and so I just stash the item in the cupboard and move onto the next one. Consequently, I have a cupboard full of my creations. 

Actually, I get around to using very few of them. Sometimes I'll try out a new design alongside my favourites. So, what to do with the excess?

Motivated by the comments of friends and colleagues I decided to auction some items on a well known auction site. I had two objectives, clear some space and perhaps make some money to cover some of the cost of the raw materials and to give to my favourite charities.

I really wasn't sure what response I would get, if any.

My First Sale

Yesterday, I completed my first sale....

This is what I sold.

It is a needlecase embroidered with birds and a little magnetic needle rest with a similar theme. 

I am so excited! I've just finished wrapping it. My next stop is the post office. 

I had no idea how nervous I'd be. I do hope that the buyer is not disappointed with their purchase! 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fragrant Package

The Lavender that I ordered to fill the pillow that I finished embroidering earlier this month has now arrived. 

I wish I could share the scent that filled the room at the moment that I opened the brown box with you.

I've already sewn the sides and one length of the pillow so it is all ready for the lavender. I just need to decide whether to put the lavender in a muslin inner pillow first or to just go for it and fill the pillow directly! 

Decisions, decisions....

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Announcement (tweaked)

I've just finished my Moira Blackburn sampler. The sampler is sold as a birth sampler and assumes that you will record baby names and dates etc. I don't often sew samplers but I fell in love with this pattern as soon as I saw it. 

This time it was the lovely border with the birds and animals that caught my attention. Of course I loved the sheep too! 

I stitched the majority of the pattern last year but I didn't know what to put in the centre. I don't do angels so those had to go, but then what? 

I decided upon a quote that I've been planning to sew for a while 'live well, laugh often, love much'. I planned to put the full quote in the middle but I didn't like the result, it was just too crowded so I settled upon a larger font and the shortened version. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Birthday Indulgence

It was my birthday on Friday. 

The day started with breakfast in bed. My favourite coffee and hot croissants. This was followed by a visit to the Wellington Arch in London to see an exhibition about the changing London skyline. It was all about development in London and the protection of historic buildings. It featured some residential and commercial developments with models and drawings that would have completely changed famous areas such as Regent Street and Covent Garden if they had been built. An added bonus was that the sun came out so that we could also enjoy the views of Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace Gardens. 

Next, a little pick-me-up in the shape of a Coffee and a wicked Strawberry Gateau with fresh strawberries, chopped almonds and lots of cream.

Finally, a visit to the V&A. Now this is one of my favourite museums in London. I rarely go with an agenda and yet I always find wonderful things to see. 

On my last visit I spent hours in the Jewellery Gallery. This time I enjoyed the room layouts in the 20th Century Gallery, the intricate locks and ornate keys in Ironwork, the costumes, posters and sets in Theatre and Performance and the wooden steps, house fronts and doors in Architecture. 

Along the way I saw some beautiful tapestries and my favourite items of the day, some hand embroidery by an eleven year old girl called Martha Edlin. I recall a sampler, some pin cushions and a beautiful casket frame. 

Unfortunately, the items were very difficult to see as the display was so dark that it was almost impossible to read about the items or see them clearly. If you would like to see them from the luxury of your chair simply pop V&A Catalogue in your browser and put her name in the search box. 

The day ended with a visit to my favourite vegetarian restaurant and a bottle of bubbly. 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Pincushion and Needlecase Sets for 2014

This is the second set that I have chosen for my sewing box.

New Zealand is one of my favourite places. It is absolutely gorgeous. After my last trip, I finished this little Kiwi Bird in cross stitch. I wanted to make it into something that I would use and continue to enjoy. I decided to make it into a pincushion.

Then, me being me, I decided that I couldn't just have an odd pincushion. I needed a matching needlecase. For this, I chose the mischievous Kea bird.

This little set always brings a smile to my face!

I can't wait to go back to New Zealand!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Pincushion and Needlecase Sets for 2014

I am continuing to organise my hobby corner. Having chosen to store my threads in wooden boxes, I've now decided to continue the wooden storage theme. I've just finished sorting and storing my general sewing cottons, scissors, pins etc. into an old wooden concertina sewing box. 

I am always designing and making sewing accessories. I like to try out different styles because I've never found exactly what I want in the shops. 

I've chosen two Needlecase and Pincushion sets for my sewing box.

This is the set that I grab when I am replacing a lost button or repairing a hem.

I made this little set about three years ago when I was experimenting with some different stitches. Each item is made out of orange felt with a simple design of grass and a sheep or two! It is quick and easy to make using an offcut of felt, straight stitches, french knots and blanket stitch. I made it one Saturday afternoon.

The Needlecase opens up with a little pocket for a needle threader and a space for storing needles.

I'll show you the other set tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

CrossedPaws Favourite

I couldn't resist sharing this! Apologies for the quality, it was taken on a mobile phone and sent to me.  It shows me using the Siesta Lapman frame. 

It allows me to stitch with my cat sitting on my lap at the same time! It wasn't planned, but it works out nicely for all!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Thread Organisation and Storage Completed!

It took me far longer than I had anticipated but I have finally finished organising my collection of threads. I am very pleased with the result. 

Every skein has been wound onto a labelled bobbin. The bobbins are stored in the wooden box by colour and DMC number. The numbers are clearly visible and selection is now quick and painless. The two boxes hold my full collection including antique effects, fluorescent effects, glow in the dark,  jewel effects and precious metal effects. 

Next task - Embroidery Frames

I have a number of embroidery frames to store. Over the years,  I've been experimenting to find something that is comfortable to use because I often suffer from back pain after a sewing session. I also like to have at least two projects on the go at any time - a large project and a smaller one.

I have a floor standing frame (currently holding my Afghan project). Not much I can do with that one! 

I also have a selection of lap frames. The most recent addition to my collection is a Siesta Lapman frame. It comes in a bag which sits on your lap and acts as a base for the frame and storage. I find it is the most comfortable to use. No more back ache. I use it for mid-size projects like my most recent collection, the lavender pillow. When I am done sewing for the evening I simply fold the frame inside the bag and zip it closed. It just looks like a laptop bag beside my favourite chair. 

The other lap frames have a wooden base to sit on and interchangeable frames, size, shape etc. The base means that they take up a lot of space to store.

There is also a circular frame on a clamp which is designed to attach to a table or the arm of a chair. I've never found this one comfortable to use. This one should definitely be retired!

Finally, I have a number of handheld ring frames. I don't find these very comfortable to use and so they are used very rarely.  I could reduce my collection by retiring some of these but before I do so, I am going to pad one to see if that makes it more enjoyable for me to use when I am stitching smaller projects. 

I've never used a padded frame so time will tell....I guess I've just identified another project for 2014!


Friday, 10 January 2014

My first completed cross stitch this year

I fell in love with the sheep in a pattern called 'Sheep in the Meadow' by Country Cottage Needleworks.

I decided to make a lavender scented pillow featuring the design but I thought there was too much plain grass so I added an extra sheep to the front. I've picked out two gorgeous sheep and a purple clover for the back of the pillow.

I've used 30ct cream linen and DMC threads including DMC E898 Antique Effects thread for the crooks. It is the first time that I've used an Antique Effects specialty thread. It was a little harder to use but I absolutely adore the result. I hope you do too!

Now all I have to do is make up the little pillow.
I've just ordered the lavender.

Thursday, 9 January 2014



This is my first blog and my first ever post. How will I know if it works?

Why Bother?

To document a year in the life of a compulsive creative. 
To share the highs and lows and show off my creations and perhaps exchange some patterns.

Organisational Headache

My hobby is taking over my house! 

Sadly, I do not have a dedicated craft room, just a craft corner in my sitting room. How does one store a full set of DMC threads, needles, scissors, embroidery frames, patterns, ribbons, cords, beads, charms, pompom maker, tassel maker and other specialist tools neatly and out of sight?

I'd love to hear how others do it. 

Thread Storage 

Until recently, I used a specialist wooden box with DMC on the front. It has 5 drawers and a lift up top revealing compartments. It is lovely but it assumes that I leave the thread in skeins and I don't. I prefer plastic bobbins and they don't fit well in the drawers.

Before the DMC box I used the clear plastic boxes that you find in all of the craft shops but my full collection of threads requires more than three boxes. It became a real pain to find the colour that I wanted. 

Solution? I've just purchased two wooden boxes from ebay. I think they are meant for teabags but the compartments are just the right size to fit 10 full bobbins and an empty bobbin. I can fit my full collection of threads in them easily and I can even see the labels clearly! I store my colours by DMC number and I use the spare bobbin to mark the place of a bobbin that is in use. 

The only problem is that they are too big to fit on the shelf inside my cupboard! 

Now I need to tackle my embroidery frames. 

New Cross Stitch Project

This year I am starting my first embroidered Afghan. I've found a gorgeous pattern featuring two Hummingbirds, flowers and ferns. I've chosen an 18ct oatmeal fabric and the pattern using beautiful pastels. 

Hey! Can someone tell me how I can show my designs on the blog 'The World's Largest Collection of Smalls Too'? Am I too late to do this? I've been looking at this for years!